Friday, January 23, 2009

Your turn: Emails, we get emails...

Malware, grocery surprises,
word clouds are among topics
drawing amusing responses

I've been accumulating reader comment, thinking it would make for a lazy-day blog -- then spent a lot of lazy days neither posting fresh stuff nor putting out your messages.

True, your comments can already be found under the relevant postings, but how many folks actually read the comments? Hard enough getting folks just to read my blog!

And this way, I not only get to put your thoughts front and center, but to make my own, hopefully entertaining, comments on your comments. So here goes, in reverse chronological order, time to open the email/comment in-box.

The Muck account of Edgar Allan Poe’s bicentennial celebration, and the mystery surrounding his death in 1849 brought this offering from a reader identified only as “Jupiter”:

FYI - A novel entitled "Imp: Being the Lost Notebooks of Rufus Wilmot Griswold in the Matter of the Death of Edgar Allan Poe," relates the last mysterious week of the tortured soul's life. It draws on many of Poe's short stories and portrays the poet himself as "The Imp of the Perverse," and reveals his fate to be much the same as Mr. V. Unfortunately it seems to be unavailable though it won a British literary award from the London Crime Writers Association.

Well, Jupiter, the important thing to know about Griswold is that his account of Poe’s demise was quickly discredited – and that he tried to cash in on Poe’s death by marketing his literary works for his own benefit. Griswold, alas, was a lying scumbag.

The posting on Barack Obama’s speech as a “word cloud” and its link to the fuller version in the Journeys blog of Muck-in-Chief’s s wife/art director Bonnie Schupp, brought this from our friend Rosemary the Journalism Professor:

Pretty interesting. I may just switch to reading her blog, David.

No comment.

“When less is more,” the rant on deceptive shrinking of the contents of consumer goods sold in supermarkets, brought this from the Muck-in-Chief’s second ex-wife Kathleen:

I remember you joyously picking up extra copies of the newspaper on coupon day, trying to get Maxwell House 3 oz coffee for free, and just having a great time digging up bargains. Thanks for the memory.

Well, I’ve always been cheap. The only thing better than getting it free is making a profit in purchasing an item. But as far as I can tell, even the self-checkout register won’t ring up a minus-total and spill out money like a slot machine. Damn.

And “anonymous” wrote:

Yogurt. No more 8oz containers -- now it's in 6oz micro-mini-buckets. Same price ... a 33% increase on a per-oz basis. I shop at the food outlet now, and the supposedly middle-class folks there are in about equal numbers with the obvious poor. The upscale supermarket owners can go jump in a lake.

But mostly it’s not the supermarkets shrinking the goods – it’s the manufacturers. Supermarkets supposedly have operated for years on profit margins as low as 1 percent. I suspect that figure is bogus, however, since major chains also make out on their own custom-brand products. But competition is fierce, and keeps prices from getting out of hand in areas where consumers have the widest choices of where to spend their money. I feel sorry for folks living in areas where there’s little or no competition, however.

Mitchell, adding his thought to the issue of shrinking rolls of toilet tissue:

My ass may be the same size; it's hard to look behind you, and my wife knows better than to give an honest opinion. However the issue with toilet paper is not the size of the ass as much as the size of the... output.

That’s a lot of crap.

And Rosemary observes:

As to your conclusion here -- actually our asses might be getting smaller. Simply by eating the same as usual -- you've shown we are eating less -- so the shrinkage could transfer.

On what to do with that extra second added on New Year’s Eve to 2008 on the planet’s official atomic clock, I was saddened to find that it was ticked off earlier in the evening than I supposed – not at the stroke of midnight. So I probably wasted it. Mitchell had a good idea for his second, however – in fact, you may have noticed that Mitchell has a good idea (or at least a funny idea) on any subject:

I used the extra second to feel sympathetic toward George W. Bush. Seemed like the longest second of my life. Get out of town, Dubya!

He did.

And another “anonymous,” who on this comment signed off as my regular reader and old pal Barry, seconded this way:

I'm starting my 25 volume life history, oops the second is over. Well maybe next time. Back to my eggnog.

Ellroon left a laudatory comment on Bonnie’s ‘Blogistic” guest posting here, on her successful battle to purge her computer of malware:

My daughter wants to know what kind of scented candle you like so she can light it in your honor. I have just reformatted my computer because of the Vundo and Virtumonde viruses and she had just gotten a new motherboard and freshing reloaded XP and found to her horror her computer already was infected. We used Malwarebytes and it cleaned her computer right up! Thanks for raging against the idiots who love to create these things. They need to be blindfolded and bound in a room full of angry mothers with red hot kitchen utensils...

Bonnie’s computer has been humming along since then. Alas, her workhorse Epson Stylus Photo 1270 printer (which we used for everything except Bonnie’s quality photo printing) seems to be fried. All the warning lights blink, and nothing happens – a problem that arose this week, a short time after an ink canister was replaced. It printed normally for a few pages, then decided it was not going to function anymore. Blink, blink, blink... guess that’s what designers consider a cute way of saying the machine is on the blink. Anyone need a very large paperweight?

The malware posting is the most-visited in this blog, and Ellroon was just one of several readers who credited Bonnie and Malwarebytes with solving identical problems.

On my blog introduction early last month of fortune cookie messages, Mitchell offers a trip down memory lane:

Here's a fortune cookie story you might not remember: My girlfriend (Garnetta?) and I met you for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Glen Burnie. As a gag gift, we brought you a box of MISFortune Cookies, guaranteed to have a buzz-kill of a message in each cookie. Just then a young female colleague of yours showed up, fresh from a vacation to somewhere in South America. As she stood there and described in glorious detail the young stud she hooked up with while she was there, you silently handed her one of the aforementioned MISFortune Cookies. She opened it, read the fortune, and her face turned deathly pale. You picked up the slip of paper, read it, and handed it to me; on it was printed a single word: "FERTILITY."

I remember it well, except the restaurant was a few miles south, in Severna Park. It is long closed, and for the young lady in question, who met the guy at Machu Picchu, the fortune could just as well have read “DIVORCE.”

Happily, the young lady went on to a fine career as a foreign correspondent for another newspaper – one that still has a strong commitment to international reporting.

And now, what you've all been waiting for:

Today's fortune cookie message

You have an unusually magnetic personality.
(As long as it don't erase the hard drive....)

Daily number: 754

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